Optimizing for Quality: What Are the Best Photo File Formats?

America is awash with a lot of photos. 82% of parents use social media to share photos of their children and themselves.

This statistic accounts for a fraction of the photos that get posted on the internet every day. One reason why people post so many photos is photo file formats. There are so many ways you can post images, and yet it can be hard to tell which one is best.

What are the most popular photo file formats? Which format should you select for landscapes or screenshots? How can you convert between formats?

Answer these questions and you can post perfect photos in no time. Here is your quick guide.


The Joint Photographic Experts Group created the JPEG in 1992. It is one of the most common photo formats, and many digital cameras produce JPEG images.

If you have a complicated image with a lot of colors, you should rely on JPEG. The format is great for capturing textures and bright colors. Photographs of flowers and landscapes are great as JPEGs.

You may have heard of the “JPG.” JPGs and JPEGs are the same file format. “JPG” is just a shortened name because Windows systems would only allow extension names to have three characters.


Portable Network Graphics (PNG) is another versatile image file format. When you take a screenshot of your computer screen, you are likely creating a PNG. It can support many different colors and features like text.

A PNG is also a good format if you want an image with stark transitions. If one part of your photograph is dark and another is bright, a PNG will capture both parts without blurring or pixelation.

You can use a variety of tools to convert PNG to JPG. Consider converting your files when you are sharing your images in emails. JPGs may be easier to attach in emails as they tend to be smaller than PNGs.


The Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) is less versatile than the PNG and JPG formats. But it is very valuable when you want to make short animations. You can create animations that are several seconds long, including ones in full color.

GIFs tend to use up a lot of data. You should try to keep your GIFs as short as possible so you don’t fill up your file space on your computer.


TIFF files are among the largest website images. You need to have a lot of data to upload them or keep them on your computer.

Yet they are good when you need to keep master copies on your computer. They offer good photo quality, with 16-bit TIFF images containing a wide range of colors.

The Best Photo File Formats

You must find the right photo file formats before you start posting photos. You may have used JPEGs without realizing it. If you have a colorful landscape, you should use a JPEG.

PNGs are another good option for landscapes. You can convert between the two formats using most image editing tools.

GIFs are great for short animations, though they are hard to share. When you need to store images for a long period of time, you should use TIFFs.

Photo technology is always changing. Read more photo editing guides by following our coverage.

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